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Phoenix Coyotes v Columbus Blue Jackets - NHL Betting Preview - The Bottom Matches Up

Posted by Ari Louis on 4/8/2014 10:38:42 AM

Back in the 50's boxing fans used to enjoy watching middleweights fight instead of heavyweights because the fight was more competitive and there seemed to be more action. This will certainly be relevant for the April 8th NHL game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Phoenix Coyotes. The Blue Jackets currently have one of the final playoff spots in the East and want to hold on to it with just a few games left.

The Phoenix Coyotes are in a similar position, but in the Western Conference. The Coyotes have been in talks for years about moving cities, as Phoenix is not exactly an environment for hockey. No matter the issue, leasing deals or the ownership of the team, the Coyotes are in constant jeopardy of moving and missing the playoffs won't help matters.

Talk about pressure. Tuesday's game for Phoenix against Columbus is not a must win, but it's pretty darn close. The Coyotes are battling with Dallas right now for the final playoff spot and Dallas appears to have an easier schedule down the stretch, with three of its final four games at home.

As far as the Columbus Blue Jackets, they are battling the New Jersey Devils for the final playoff spot in the East. Jersey's last few contests feature two winnable games against the Ottawa Senators and the New York Islanders. Their last game is against the Boston Bruins, who although have the best record in the NHL, will likely rest their players in their game against Jersey, as the Bruins already have home ice wrapped up.

In others words, the Blue Jackets' Tuesday night game against Phoenix puts them in the exact same situation, not a must win, but it's pretty darn close. The Coyotes are fourth in the NHL in the power play, while Columbus is in the middle of the pack in defending the power play. As good as the "Yotes" are in scoring with the man advantage, they are putrid when they are fighting the power play, as they are 26th in the league in penalty killing.

Coyotes goalie Thomas Greiss has a very respectable average of 2.28 goals against and the Blue Jacket offense is ranked 13th in scoring with a 2.7 goal average. The Coyotes are led by their defensemen Keith Yandle, who leads the team with 52 points and 44 assists. Antoine Vermette leads the team with 24 goals. Both players will have their chances against Columbus' goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky, who is not exactly the best goal in the NHL. Sergi allows an average of 2.45 goals per game. It would be an even bigger advantage if Phoenix can get on the power play.

In four of Phoenix's recent losses to Minnesota, Winnipeg, Los Angeles and Edmonton, they combined for only four goals. Look for the Coyotes to be aggressive early to draw Columbus in to committing penalties which will give Phoenix a power play. For Columbus, look for the Blue Jackets to try to play a very disciplined game and avoid penalties, as when there is no man advantage for either side, it greatly favors the Blue Jackets.

As opposed to the NBA, the 8th seed in the NHL playoffs can do some serious damage, as we saw with the L.A. Kings who won the Stanley Cup in 2012. This game is critical for both teams and although it is in Columbus, Phoenix has a good chance to win, as they have played in the more balanced conference throughout the season and seems poised for a late season showdown. Taking the Coyotes as the slight +123 underdogs on the money line and may be a nice bet.

* Betting lines mentioned in this article are subject to change due to time sensitivity. Please visit the sports betting lines for up to date odds.


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